sky field sunshine
© L.P. Koch
There's currently lots of hoopla about some crybabies who want daddy to keep Substack clean and safe.

They talk about "Nazis" on the platform, conveniently forgetting to define what they even mean, which, of course, is a feature, not a bug. Seriously, I doubt those who scream "Nazi" the loudest have ever read a serious book about the Third Reich or about Mustache Man. Not that this matters.

But what drives these people? Beyond being crybullies, I mean? I think there is a deeper point to make here about discomfort and wishing death upon those with different opinions.

See, if you stumble upon something that goes against what you believe, and perhaps seriously so, this can be understood as an invitation. An invitation which, unfortunately, upsets your psychological and intellectual homeostasis. You are out of balance, and it feels terrible.

So you can either walk away from it or destroy it: flight or fight. Many choose the latter, because they believe this will get rid of the source of their psychological misery once and for all: literal ideacide, the Final Solution to their agony. Hence, someone like Casey Newton talks about "violent ideologies" — not because the ideologies he has in mind necessarily promote killing people or something, but because people like him feel a huge pain just from the knowledge that those thoughts exist somewhere. From their perspective, they are right: this is violence. To them.

Which also explains why they go so hard on the Substack founders, demanding they remove accounts and such: indeed, the very idea that others are not as upset by differing opinions as they are causes them a great deal of misery. They can't understand why those running a platform like Substack don't feel the same and kick everybody out that deviates from certain viewpoints. For them, tolerating someone's opinion even if one doesn't agree amounts to endorsing it: the censorious mind doesn't just suffer from bad opinions being out there somewhere, it also suffers from people not giving a damn about it — which is just as threatening to their homeostasis as the opinions themselves. Perhaps more so, for it proves that even those with similar views as them can be infinitely wiser. Alas, vampires hate mirrors.

Speaking of mirrors, we should recognize that we all have a censorious mind to an extent. But another reaction than fight or flight is possible:

You recognize the upset balance, your threatened homeostasis, as the invitation it is, and you set out to feel around these threatening ideas with your soul, powered by your intellect (figuring things out), by your emotions (riding the pain, excitement and using your reactions as data points), and your body (staying grounded and in touch with your sensations). All this under the overarching guidance of the soul, as a sort of deeper and wider vision, a more deeply connected state, which can reign emotion, body and intellect in as needed.

You feel your way around the balance-threatening opinions, to find that space between mind spaces, behind the rhetoric, behind the intellectual arguments. In that space between spaces, you may detect something bigger, a wider context, a "flavor" that can better inform you which parts, if any, of all this have merit, and whether the overall thrust is right or not, somewhat independently of the specifics.

If you can pull it off, the pain will recede, no matter the preliminary conclusions you come to. You might reject what's offered, but you will have understood it, including its wider context, subtleties, and the general vibespace of the thoughts under scrutiny — which suddenly don't seem as threatening as before. Or you conclude that there is some truth to them, whether you accept the whole thing or not. Either way, a visceral understanding will eliminate visceral pain and the feeling of threat.

Another crucial insight here is that if you stumble upon upsetting information or opinions, you neither have to reject them out of hand, nor "convert" immediately to the new point of view. It's not an either-or decision, and not one you have to take now. You certainly don't have to suddenly start running around, blurting out the new story to all and sundry.

This relieves the psychological pressure greatly: you can look at controversial things, but don't feel threatened by the idea of finding some of it to be true — because you don't have to come to a full conclusion, much less proselytize. Let it sit in the back of your mind for weeks, months, even years; look at it periodically, think about the issue, discover the subtleties about it, the different angles, tie it back to your own experience, and then let it sit a while longer. Cultivating this mindset helps with not freaking out about stuff, and with not getting sucked in and thrown around by this idea or that. Of course, there's also the option to file a homeostasis-threatening idea under "forget it for now, maybe look at it later." Nobody is forced to care about every opinion out there. (But if something keeps bothering you, and you keep coming across it, chances are you are dealing with an invitation you may want to accept.)

Now, I'm not sure whether the most censorious and deplatforming-minded folks will ever be able to pull it off. To feel your way around with your soul, you need to have a soul in the first place, and one that isn't buried so deep under a pile of crap that the slightest discomfort triggers an aggressive response. I suspect that many of the loudest deplatformers simply are so low-level in their soul-development that all they can do is latch onto whatever they perceive as the current authority and defend it violently. Everything else will lead to such grave psychological pain for them that they are driven to eradicate whoever is causing it.

The flip side is that those who feel that way will feel the same no matter who the perceived authorities are and what they say. If there's a sane authority, they will behave accordingly, more or less. You would be amazed at how fast such authoritarians can switch sides without blinking.

We all suffer from a censorious mind: a part of us wants to simply destroy everything that threatens our current psycho-intellectual balance. We should realize, however, that with every upset of homeostasis comes evolution — if we can stand the heat, and hold our own.

The pain forces us to go deeper, wider, broader. It invites us to reach a new equilibrium, a new level of understanding from which we can calmly look at the bigger picture and the specifics simultaneously, at contradictions and different angles without going mad, until the pressure and pain give way to the joyful feeling of a new way of seeing things, of knowing things, of feeling the world and its ideas from within: sensing the thrusts and currents, the connectedness, the dead ends, in a never-ending quest of refining and purifying our consciousness as a part of wider consciousness.

Clarity is ecstasy, for which we pay with discomfort and effort. If we have it in us.

Which is likely not the case for the loudest of the hall monitors. It is that sorry state of being, and only that, for which they deserve our pity.